My Career, My Writing, My Future - Greensleeves Hubs on HubPages and Elsewhere
As I write this early in the new year of 2016, I am reflecting on my time on the HubPages creative content website, and my future as an Internet writer. I am Alun Rhys Griffiths, and I write here on HubPages, and have done so for the past five years.
I hope some who have read my articles or 'hubs' will be pleased to hear that I intend to still be writing here far into the future. But it is traditional at the turn of the year to be introspective, to reflect, and to consider the future. And certainly for me this particular turn of the year is liable to bring very big changes in my life and hopefully my writing.
This is because I will be terminating my career as a hospital radiographer in a few months time. It can be called retirement, but I recoil from using that term and I wish for no one else to use it. Why? Two reasons. One is because the very idea of retirement genuinely depresses me. I really don’t feel old enough to retire, I don’t feel physically or mentally on the slide, and I don't feel that I've accomplished even a fraction of what I want to accomplish in life. So if retirement is a time to relax and stop achieving, then that thought would be enough to destroy my will to live.
The second reason is because I would hope - realistically or not - to continue to earn; perhaps not to the same level as I did before, but at least enough to bring in a few extra dollars each week. And the most likely way in which I can do that is through writing. So I prefer to think of this, not as an end to my working life, but as a change of direction - a chance to do as I wish and not what I'm obliged to do as an employee, and a chance to write with more frequency and freedom.
This therefore is a statement to my friends on HubPages and others, about my writing to date, and about my future writing intentions here and elsewhere.
N.B: Please note, all my articles are best read on desktops and laptops
The HubPages Experience
Five years ago at the turn of another year - 2011 - I joined HubPages. The reasons I wanted to write were many. I liked the idea of sharing my thoughts and creating something entirely original, and hopefully entertaining and enduring. And to be honest, I also wanted to make some money.
But the reason I decided specifically to write online, rather than on paper, was just one - a lack of confidence in my writing ability. And the reason I decided to write on HubPages, rather than creating my own website, was also just one - a lack of confidence in Internet publishing. These two reasons will be explained next:
Lack of Confidence in my Writing Ability:
Sending a paper manuscript to a publisher was not something I could contemplate. Let's be honest - even successful authors who have truly made their mark in the world of writing, have legions of horror stories about the many manuscripts they'd sent off as a novice, and the multiple rejection slips they'd received. My fragile self confidence couldn't have taken rejection after rejection. But I knew I could be published on the Internet, and more or less anonymously, so that is the way I chose to go. Even so, my concerns about how my pages would be received was deep-rooted, and my pulse rate quickened after pressing the ‘publish’ button for the first time. And I can honestly say if the first few comments I received had been abusively dismissive of my efforts, then that would've almost certainly been it - my writing career, snuffed out in crushing humiliation. Fortunately the comments were not ridiculing; they were complimentary, and they encouraged me to write more.
Lack of Confidence in Publishing:
Even after choosing to write on the Internet, there was an alternative to HubPages. I could of course have established my own website, couldn't I? Nope - that would have been just silly! Despite using computers at work, and at home for e-mailing, word processing, information research and so on, I knew my limitations. Technical jargon leaves me cold and confused. The very thought of compiling my own site and having to deal with URLs, SEOs, HTMLs, DMCAs and any other acronymic combination of letters you care to name, was something I dismissed very quickly indeed. On HubPages, none of that was necessary; the templates for text and photos, links, videos and maps were all provided - all I had to do was fill 'em up and move 'em round!
So that, in a nutshell, is why I ended up writing here on HubPages, and why I've been here ever since.
The Last Five Years - An Emphasis on Non-Controversial Output
But what have I written in the past five years? Film reviews, astronomy pages, travel guides - the common theme is that most have been relatively impersonal and relatively uncontroversial. I've avoided personal stuff - too much creative writing, poems, short stories, reflective essays - anything which could reveal heartfelt and embarressing private thoughts. Of my 140 articles or 'hubs' to date, only about half a dozen betray my sensitive side,
And I've also avoided controversies, never wishing to get embroiled in heated arguments, and so.a similarly tiny number of hubs have tackled those subjects where the 'Comments' section may have the potential to spontaneously combust.
But that may all be about to change in 2016. There are many ways in which I would like to develop my writing. And there are many important issues which to date I have judiciously avoided - controversial issues upon which I hold strong views.
My Future Writing
With more time to write, I hope to become more productive on HubPages, but also to try to diversify to other resources. Maybe proof reading, copywriting, reviews penned to online sites or print magazines? Any suggestions from fellow HubPage members? There are opportunities out there, if I can only find the motivation and the markets. And with the experience of writing here, maybe it is time at last for me to try to open my own website?
However, there is little doubt that my mainstay for the foreseeable future will continue to be HubPages. And increased self-confidence on HubPages, plus the desire to make a slightly more significant mark on the community, may lead me to write some hubs which are a little more provocative. I have opinions and I want to express those opinions, because we only have one shot at life and I wish to make the most of mine. I won't of course be abandoning the themes which have served me well in the past, so film reviews, astronomy pages, travel guides and so on, will remain a staple. But perhaps there will in future be a liberal sprinkling of more pointed and opinionated articles.
I do have some HubPage friends and others whom I respect, and whom I certainly would not wish to offend with my points of view - I don't think I will because I am pretty moderate! But I hope that by very briefly expressing here, my views on certain issues, I can indicate the general pattern of my thinking, and what may possibly be expected from me in the future. In the next section therefore, are the kinds of topics which most interest me.
My Perspective on Issues of Importance
If one wishes to pigeon-hole, then my general political orientation as a Brit is moderate conservative. America, however, is a much more right wing nation than the UK or indeed most other democracies, and unquestionably in America I would be regarded as left of centre, and a Democrat (and even by some as a socialist!) However, I am not - and have never been - party political. I dislike the idea of identifying with a political party and the whole package of policies which are linked to that party, and I therefore regard myself as an independent, who prefers to focus on particular issues of interest. One such issue is democracy. The freedom to express a controversial opinion, the right to a say in the election of those who govern us - these are the most cherished rights of all. To date, I have written just one article on this; In Praise of Democracy - Analysis of the Value of Democratic Government in the World. I also have one hub which looks at a brutal attack committed against these basic freedoms - The Paris Atrocities of January 2015 - and a Message of Hope for the World.
On Gun Control:
One specific topic which has grabbed my attention is the peculiarly American issue of gun rights. Not a subject which even raises a murmer of debate in my country or most others, but I have developed a interest in American gun culture since the - to my eyes - very strange belief in the ‘right to bear arms’ first came to my attention some years ago. I have written one article about this, and the seemingly endless debate it provoked was an eye-opener - Gun Control and the Right to Bear Arms - a Foreign Perspective on the Pro-Gun Lobby. More may follow.
On Science and Pseudoscience:
I have a background in science and I'm an advocate for empirical methodology. So the lack of respect for dispassionate evidence-based research and cold statistical analysis, which afflicts so many in our society, concerns me. I believe it seriously hinders human progress and renders us open to unsubstantiated and sometimes dangerous ideas. These include pseudoscientific claims, paranormal beliefs, and much alternative medicine, as well as a baseless mistrust of those highly educated scientists who study issues of great importance, such as global warming.
On Conspiracy Theories:
One area where weight of evidence tends to be disregarded by those following an agenda of their own, or with an attraction to sensationalism, is the 'conspiracy theory'. Far too often such theories are the consequence of an overexuberant imagination and cherry-picked evidence. And at worst they can hamper genuine study, distort public understanding, and slander decent people who have testified to the 'official' view. I believe that very few popular conspiracy theories have merit.
On Environmental and Cultural Conservation:
I am passionate about the need to protect the natural environment and conserve the world’s plant and animal species. And I believe to do this one must curb mankind's profligate exploitation of the world's resources. I also feel strongly about a different kind of conservation - the cultural conservation of art, architecture and local traditions. I have just one hub so far devoted to this subject, predominantly looking at recent cultural atrocities in the Middle East - Relative Values: The Need to Preserve our Historic Architecture from Acts of Cultural Vandalism
On Progress and Change:
I am a bit of a technophobe. A Luddite. It does not mean that I oppose change out of hand. I do not. But all change - including technological change - is not progress. If it were, we would now be living in a veritable Paradise. Much change is change for change's sake, and solves existing problems merely by creating new ones. And even when technology is beneficial, it is sometimes pushed forward with excessive haste, changing our lifestyles and our society faster than humans are capable of adapting to it, and before any flaws in the technology have become apparent.
I am an atheist - not a matter of any consequence in Europe, but in some parts of the world, it is a standpoint which provokes suspicion and negativity. I have never sought debate on religion. Many of my closest friends are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, and I have no desire at all to antagonise them, nor to convert them away from the comforting security and sense of purpose that Faith gives them. However, the morality of atheism has been called increasingly into question by some in America, and atheists have been persecuted and criminalised in Islamic nations where theocratic beliefs are strong. I feel the need to offer some defence of atheism in the face of such attacks.
On Tolerance, Moderation and Reason on the Internet:
And finally, after spouting off about these issues, a plea for tolerance. In an age when anyone can express an opinion on the Internet, the fact that literally anyone can express an opinion means that the quality of comment and debate is being seriously degraded. Without objective arbiters to manage many popular sites, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the good, the bad and the downright ugly in Internet writing. In addition, the facility to comment in anonymous forums, without taking any personal responsibility for the consequences, can encourage extreme and unsubstantiated statements. Tolerance of different opinions on the Internet is to be encouraged. Tolerance of bullying, abuse, flame wars, sensationalist nonsense and lies is not. It is not easy to know where to draw the line, but I am keen to try. Internet Comments - Freedom of Speech or Freedom to Abuse and Subvert Free Speech?
So that’s it. In a few months time my life changes irrevocably. It is a turning point which may impact all aspects of my life - social and financial, my leisure pursuits and relationships - but the purpose of this article is not to discuss all of those.
This article is only concerned with writing, and to lay out the ways in which my writing may possibly develop on this HubPages site, and hopefully on a website of my own, or elsewhere on the Internet, or maybe in print. If anyone who writes here has any advice, I would be grateful to receive it, because when I stop full-time work I certainly don't intend to just sit and vegetate in a chair (although - come to think of it - writing extensively can involve an awful lot of vegetating in a chair!) What precisely I do will depend on the limits of my abilities and the limitations of my drive and my self-confidence. Whatever happens, 2016 should be an interesting year for me. And even if you disagree with some of my views as expressed above, please wish me luck!
Thanks for reading. Alun.
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